It’s evolution, baby

I’m at peace. I’m the man buying stocks on the day of the crash. — Pearl Jam, Do the Evolution.

Moral of today’s story: I need less depressing reading material for when I can’t sleep.

What’s an out-of-work journalist to do late at night but read about the decline of the newspaper industry? Dan Conover also has an interesting post about where he thinks journalism is headed (like there’s a big shortage of opinions on that subject…)

There are scores of innovative ideas out there that will help reinvent journalism. A few will succeed; most won’t. On the whole, I enjoy studying new ways to provide people with information they find useful. As many people cheerfully point out, “It’s an exciting time to get started.”

Call me small minded, but I would argue it’s not so exciting if you’ve just been laid off. Sure, I like abstract media projects just as much as the next guy. I also like people covering city hall. I’m happy those job titles exist. I’m depressed that, increasingly, they don’t.

So there’s this coming apocolypse and those that don’t adapt will get left behind. I get it. I’m happy people are working on start-ups, some of which will fill the void left behind when/if major metros fail.

It’s really exciting to see news ventures such as TalkingPointsMemo, Texas Watchdog, Voice of San Diego and numerous other sites. It’s fascinating to read about C3 and commerce hubs. It’s really cool.

But before we get too excited talking about the big-picture of the journalism landscape and the neat new ventures that might replace the dinosaurs, let’s remember that we’re not talking about re-inventing the toaster. We’re talking about re-inventing an institution that is a key part of maintaining a healthy democracy.

Let me be clear. I’m bullish on journalism thriving — in the long run. I’m also incredibly sad to see once-proud newspapers shed talented journalists and become shells of themselves. I’m sad for those journalists, and for my own career, but I’m mostly worried about the communities those journalists used to cover.

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The meaning of ‘gulf’

I’m the small voice that thunders in the night. I’m your watchdog who howls against the wolves. — Shinbone Star Editor Dutton Peabody (from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance)

I thought I would briefly explain my blog’s title. I hinted at it in the first post. Most explicitly, it refers to the fact that from where I live, I could walk to the Gulf of Mexico. I actually live closer to Tampa Bay, but Peering into the Bay doesn’t sound as cool. I would suggest that my blog’s title could also refer to a discussion about the “gulf” that the journalism industry is in right now. You could also take the public records approach and apply it to my penchant for open government.

I’m sure there are more interpretations.

Note: I’m aware that the phrase “from where I live, I could walk to the Gulf of Mexico” could refer to, say, San Francisco. I hope no one is anal enough to interpret it that way.

Florida! (belatedly)

I stuck around St. Petersburg, when I saw it was a time for a change. — Rolling Stones, Sympathy for the Devil

That quote is apt because I am here in St. Petersburg, Russia Fla., and I’m sticking around. Actually, I’ve been here for 16 days. I have just now arrived at a point at which I feel comfortable starting a weblog about my current life circumstances.

Oh, new blog feature. I’m going to try to start each post with a song lyric or quote of some sort. I’ll try to make it relevant to what I’m writing about. No promises, though.

About the second half of the quote. It is indeed a time for a change. But not in the revolutionary way Mick Jagger intended, nor really in the political way Obama intends. For me, it’s a time for a change in several facets of our society and culture.

I guess one of the biggest changes is technological.  Just pretend you heard this in, say, 2006: “I just downloaded a Kindle book from an iPhone app. You’d know because I just tweeted about it.” I reckon it still sounds silly in 2009.

It goes without saying (though I will anyway) that this newfangled technological shift has affected my industry of choice, journalism. In between the Great Recession and not knowing what to do with the Interweb, many traditional news organizations are hurting, bad.

Solutions? I’m interested to see how charging for content works out. I’d be nice if news sites can work out a deal with aggregators such as Google or Huffington Post so they actually pay for content they steal use to make a profit. I guess we can keep cutting our way to prosperity.

——-

So you’ve been in Florida for 16 days, and you’re just now starting a blog about your major life change? What gives?

Good question, I’m glad you asked. Well for one, I put together an Ikea dresser. That should be enough of an answer, but there’s even more. I’ve also done my fair share of unpacking, rearranging, setting up an entertainment center-ing. I’ve been to the beach a few times. Also some networking and job searching.

St. Pete is a curious little town. It’s surrounded by water on three sides and has some of the best beaches around. It’s nice cause many of the beaches face the Gulf of the Mexico (hence the blog title). So we’re still on the East Coast where all the action is, but we also get the kick-ass sunsets.

There’s a good downtown, but most everything shuts down by 10 or 11. I also live within a short drive of an major league team, which is really nice.


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